In June, world leaders converged in Brazil to discuss a topic of growing importance to countries world-wide: sustainable development. Despite months of hype for the Rio+20 Conference, however, participants left Brazil without any sort of global plan for addressing environmental, economic, and social concerns, and without even a statement saying that they should do so. Yet no matter how you judge the outcomes of Rio+20, the global attention it brought to the increasingly important topic of sustainable development is undeniable.
Sustainable development has different connotations to different people, but broadly in refers to lasting development that takes into account political, social, economic, and environmental factors. For individual countries, this means investing in economic sectors that create jobs for all, building better infrastructure to provide key services such as reliable electricity and transportation, and empowering political institutions that allow individuals and businesses to engage in advocacy and let their voices be heard.
For youth — the world’s fastest growing age group, and also the most over-represented among the world’s unemployed — the stakes of development’s success (and sustainability) are even higher.
In CIPE’s recently released Economic Reform Feature Service article, Babatunde Oladosu and Michale Olumuyiwa Kayode, second and third place winners of the 2011 Youth Essay Contest in the sustainable development category, argue that youth can play an integral role in their country’s development by creating jobs, holding economic and political leaders accountable, and investing in local communities. Both authors also point to the importance of their own country, Nigeria, in investing in itself. Local actors, not foreign aid, must lead the way towards economic prosperity and democratic reform.
Read their winning essays: “Nigerian Youth and Sustainable Development,” and “Youth and Politico-Economic Development in Nigeria,” here.
Articles at a glance:
- Youth can help make development sustainable and home-grown by increasing focus on job creation instead of job seeking, encouraging local business, and investing in their communities.
- Nigerians—not international donors—are the best leaders of and investors in Nigeria’s economic, political, and social development.
- Nigeria’s current state of affairs is a product of both the government and the citizens, and both parties must work together to resolve the country’s problems.
CIPE is also now accepting entries for the 2012 Youth Essay Competition, which focuses on the theme of entrepreneurship. Winner in each category will have their essays published as Feature Service articles and receive a $500 honorarium, and a special Grand Prize winner will be awarded the opportunity to attend an entrepreneurship conference in the United States in 2013. Find out more here.